The Sequoia Tourism Council encourages tourists visit the Scenic Mountain Loop, Yosemite and Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park, for a long three-day weekend. Each park has its own interest. Those who love huge granite cliffs, and many water features might start with Yosemite. Tree lovers should start in Tulare County at Sequoia Park, the home of the biggest trees in the world.
How to Avoid the Crowds at Yosemite
The short answer is that during a great year like 2017, you probably can’t avoid crowds completely. To beat hoards of people, this last week of May is about the perfect time you will find to visit Yosemite until school is out.
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Meet Linda Hengst and her husband Bob. Linda paints with oil, water-color, acrylics, using brushes, knives, on canvas and buildings. You name it. She just finished a new mural in Exeter, CA, famous for its beautiful murals.
Bob told me at one of her art shows, “If you love to paint, you have to paint. You can’t help yourself.” Bob is her life-long admirer and supporter.
Linda gets her ideas from nature, primarily from photographs.
When Linda invited me to go along with her on a photo shoot to find pictures to paint in Yosemite, I jumped at the chance. Getting to photograph a beautiful place is incentive enough, but to get inside the thinking of an artist – better still!
Native Californians, Linda and Bob, wanted to visit Yosemite on a weekday before school let out to take photographs. Does this make her an introverted artist like many are? Nah! She knew how few parking spaces there were in Yosemite! Poor Bob!
Having near record rainfalls this spring promises great pictures of the many falls in Yosemite. Crowds will follow. Below you can see the record rains of 1997.
The day we went it was about 75 degrees and sunny. Bob couldn’t find a parking spot in the scenic parking areas on either side of the road as we emerged from the long tunnel into our first view of Bridal Veil Falls.
The car was barely stopped when Linda popped out, confident that Bob would find a spot to park or pick her up. She began taking pictures immediately. At first, I waited in the back seat as Bob patiently pulled as far off the road as he could. As we sat waiting for a parking place, I shot pictures from the car. I loved the frame it created. It almost seemed that I was watching the scene on TV.
Settling into the Yosemite Valley Floor
Five minutes into our arrival Linda wanted to hike up to photograph Bridal Veil Falls with frigid water pounding over the granite cliffs misting her jacket, face and perfect hair. Bob did not want to do that. Linda brought extra clothes, a heavy raincoat, and pairs of shoes. She packed like a grandma, but had the enthusiasm of a second-grader.
Umm, getting to the trail meant wading. I don’t want all of you think I am a naysayer, but there is not a good way look like the heroine of this story. Without a willing partner, Linda opted regretfully out of hiking up for a Bridal Veil shower.
Instead we took lots of shots of the falls from along the road. I tended to get caught up in details like a tree buds.
Linda looked for the bigger picture. When I followed her advice, I got some exquisite shots.
Trees made the perfect frame for the engorged falls. I would have been happier with a bluer sky, but as a painter, Linda could change that.
In Search of Dogwood Trees
Linda got very excited to see the dogwoods blooming. She wanted Bob to pull the car over every time she saw one. Bob pulled safely off the road often so she could take a picture.We probably saw 500 dogwood trees, not counting reflections.
She wanted me to stand up while the car was moving and take pictures of dogwood trees out of the sun roof. She stuck her miniature digital camera through the hole in the roof and clicked. Some of her pictures came out. I stayed securely imprisoned in my backseat seatbelt during the trip, Highway Patrol Person and Carol Sherritt.
Dogwood Trees Frame the Majestic Yosemite Hotel
After about two hours of photo snapping, Bob calmly announced he could eat something. We headed towards the Ahwahnee Hotel, temporarily renamed the Majestic Yosemite. Bob checked out the dining room while we checked the ladies’ rest rooms for signs on the insides of the doors. Unlike in Australia, the doors had no signs. Very boring.
The hour and forty minute wait to order lunch did not appeal to any of us. So we ate outside to enjoy this view of the 1927 historic hotel. I took about an hour and forty minutes to get our tomato-basil soup and grilled cheese sandwich, but the wait could not have been more pleasant. We rated the food and service at about a B-.
Ahwahnee Hotel History
Beginning in 1925, the designer of the Bryce and Zion Canyon lodges, Gilbert Stanley Underwood, designed the massive 150,000 square foot hotel. Created entirely from materials not found in the protected park, trucks hauled in 1,000 tons of steel, 5,000 tons of stone, and 30,000 board feet of timber. Although James L. McLaughlin quoted the park a cost of $525,000 to build the first-class hotel, the last price tag came in at $1,250,000 in 1927 dollars or $17,050,282 today.
The hotel served as a Navy rest and relaxation hospital for naval personnel during World War II. Three hundred fifty men slept in the Great Lounge. Nearly 7,000 patients with over 90,000 service men and women coming to rest and relax.
After lunch, we followed the river on a short path to admire all the dogwood trees in bloom.
Hiking Along the Merced River
While Bob may have napped in the car after lunch, Linda wanted to do one more hike to a bridge she remembered that had a perfect view of Yosemite Falls. We started off in that direction, her walking sticks clicking on the rocks against the clamor of the Merced River racing along in the opposite direction. We both stopped often to listen and take pictures. No one dared to photo bomb us and chance falling into the icy creek that rushed away on its watery journey.
Some hikers coming the opposite direction informed us that the bridge from which Linda wanted to take pictures of Yosemite Falls was not as close as she had hoped. They suggested we go forward another few minutes and look backward.
I took a picture every few feet to make sure I did not miss the perfect shot.
After we were sure we had the best pictures we could capture, we headed back to Bob. Linda made him walk the next trail, which was a short one with views of three falls, if you aimed correctly. Can you find them all?
Linda, the most creative of the three of us, found a playmate.
I thought Pock Mark was cute too, and I found him an extra eye that Linda did not like. Pock looked like he was eating a snake or maybe a giant rat.
I wasn’t going to try to get it away from him!
The meadows retained some of the January rains. I wanted a reflection of the mountains. If you look carefully you can see the reflection of the falls on the lower left right by my name.
Some of the views defied my ability to come up with enough words to describe them. Grandeur and awe-inspiring sound trite, but what words would you use? Some people do not like to get people in their photographs, but my dad, a professional photographer in his retirement years, gave advice I try to always follow at least in one photo.
“When you take landscapes, you need something to show perspective. Always take a picture of someone wearing red.” Dad told me.
Wherever the falls plummeted from the mountains we heard the intense power of the water crashing down the rocks even from a great distance.
In places it looked like the water forced its way out of the tiny holes in the rocks.
By the end of the day Linda was still revved. She did not want to leave.
“Oh look at the cute cap on Half Dome.”
I turned from heading toward the car where Bob waited to find her taking this shot. I hurried to take it, too, before the cap decided to move on.
At some point, Linda will create amazing paintings. As she clicked and chatted, I appreciated her enthusiastic search for the perfect photo spots, playfulness, inquisitiveness, and her eye for great photos.
If you don’t go to Yosemite with a Linda in your group, don’t despair. Great art awaits you at every turn. Just point and shoot.
A Drive to Sequoia National Park Views on the way to the park
Art Studios Come in All Shapes and Sizes See where Linda does her work.
Local Artist Renews Some of Linda’s artwork
What Can You Do On a Saturday Night in Woodlake? Views of the Woodlake Botanical Gardens, famous world-wide. The spring event, the Berry Festival, is scheduled May 27, 2017.
A Must See Oddball Shop Sightseeing along the way to Sequoia National Park
We needed these to get to the trail! This would be handy, girls! It’s a best seller!
Water Filtration system – another best seller for hikers This backpack includes a rain cover!
Better Nature Photography Equipment This is cool. The secret is the top that unscrews to reveal a threaded head-a perfect home to steady your camera while you get that award-winning nature shot. I’d probably stay in the car, but a great photographer would not. This is for the greats! Be ready for wet weather.